Inside a Civil War Photography Studio

June 25, 2013 | Civil War

Grant

There are thousands of Civil War era photographs, and they provide a valuable look into the war and allow you to put real faces to the names in the history books. This photo provides a special look into how those photos came to be. At the time, cameras were in their infancy. Shutter speeds were very slow, which meant to achieve a sharp image people had to remain very still. For this reason nearly all photographs were staged, and many took place in studios, like this one. This image of Ulyseses S. Grant shows a much wider view than many, and gives a “behind the scenes” look at the portrait set. The background was a painting showing the sky and a column. On once side a curtain is hung. To the right of the image you can see what may be a reflector to bounce light onto his face.

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